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UK plc finds it isn’t easy being green


iomart & Green It Magazine reveal that UK Companies are failing to set environmental policies and have little trust in technology manufacturers’ promises

UK businesses are talking the talk when it comes to environmental issues, but are not converting talk into action, according to new research unveiled by managed hosting and data centre operator iomart.

The results of the first annual environmental IT survey were revealed by iomart and Green IT magazine at a seminar held at Emirate Stadium in North London earlier this month. A total of 3102 IT managers and directors were asked for their views on the green agenda and their own companies’ responses to it.

And while 90% of those questioned said the environment was important or very important to their operations, nearly two-thirds (62%) admitted their organisations didn’t have any kind of green policy.

In a climate where every penny counts, the IT professionals surveyed recognised energy efficiencies also mean cost savings. Two-thirds (66%) said they believed the IT department could save the company money while improving its green performance

Yet a staggering 95% admitted they had never seen or were not responsible for the company’s utility bills, with the result that they would be unable to analyse where the IT department could contribute to energy efficiency measures.

Tellingly, relatively few IT professionals were aware of related green organisations – when given a choice of recognised environmental organisations, most (62%) named pressure group Greenpeace. Some 16% had not heard of any environmental organisations, and just 15% could identify Green Grid, the technology-focused green energy consortium. The Computer Savers Alliance was recognised by five per cent of respondents.

Angus McSween, CEO of iomart, said: ”There seems to be a real contradiction within the IT industry. Most IT managers and directors say they are concerned about the environment but very few have taken the time to formulate a green policy or scrutinise where technology costs figure on their company’s electricity bills.

“It is a dilemma we as an industry have to address, and soon, but we have to take responsibility for our own energy use if anything is going to change.”

The survey, carried out by Green IT during October this year, revealed other contradictions, too. It showed that, despite IT professionals’ contention that the environment is a priority, cost is five times more important than the environment when it comes to buying IT equipment.

Some 46% first take spend into account when purchasing new equipment over just eight per cent who would prioritise environmental impact.

But the research also revealed a feeling among businesses that hardware manufacturers were not doing enough to support businesses’ green ambitions.

Two-thirds (66%) said manufacturers did not supply enough in the way of green products – even more (72%) said they felt they were being mislead by manufacturers over the environmental benefits offered by certain technology.

Josh Boulton from Green IT Magazine stated: “The rush to be green appears to be taking a new and more focused direction, with cost and accountability coming to the fore. The onus is on all of us to ensure that these sound business principles are utilised throughout the chain, from manufacturers through to the end user. It will be interesting to see how the figures change in next year’s survey.”

Angus MacSween said: “There is clearly a trust issue which has to be overcome. Even when the will is there, businesses need to be confident the technology in which they invest will deliver the environmental benefits they’re looking for.

“But technology can only do so much. Businesses need to make sure they’re making the best use of their IT infrastructure and take advantage of available efficiencies.”

Over the next 12 months, most IT experts surveyed (78%) expect green issues to become even more important to their operations, with the majority (42%) saying they thought self-regulation would become a bigger feature of the green IT landscape. Fewer than one in five (17%) predicted legislative intervention.

Angus MacSween added: “Those involved in the IT side of businesses want to do the right thing, because I think it’s well-recognised by now that the growing computing need of industry brings with it hefty energy consumption.

”What we need now is a closer dialogue between end users and hardware suppliers to establish just what needs to be done.

“The advance of things like virtualisation allow more to be done with less, so its incumbent on all of us involved in the data industry to put new technology to best use so we can benefit from the environmental, not to mention financial, rewards.”

The full results of the survey will appear in the next edition of Green IT Magazine published in February 2009.



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